Maxed out by The Min in Morden

Sunday 26 June 2022, Joseph Hood Recreation Ground, Morden.

The Min CC 182-3 (28.1 overs: Richard Beswick 71 ret ht, Brock Boyd-Taylor 66*, Sheahan Arnott 2-44) beat St Anne’s Allstars 178-7 (35 overs: Matt Biss 72*, Jim Carroll 2-17, Richard Earney 2-36, Chris Etheridge 2-33) by 7 wickets.

Allstars Debut: Andrew Deller

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Sheahan Arnott

The Min are true stalwarts of London social cricket, having just celebrated their 40th anniversary. They share with our club both a similar founding story – a group of friends who attended Bristol University together – and a more recent regeneration, bringing through a cluster of new players in the last few years while retaining many of their long-standing regulars. Given all this, it’s perhaps surprising that our paths haven’t crossed before now – but following a recommendation by our mutual friends the Railway Taverners, we were delighted to take up their offer of a game. We had our moments in our inaugural fixture – but it ultimately belonged to them, as they coasted to victory with nearly 7 overs to spare.

Morden was a new ground for us – though not without access problems, the aftermath of the rail strikes delaying both teams’ arrival at the ground. On a sunny day, The Min’s skipper Richard Beswick won the toss and asked us to bat first – though I was more than happy with this, as the pitch looked pretty good, a substantial improvement on the same council’s minefield at Dundonald Road a couple of miles away.

Matt Biss and Hywel Roberts strode out to open the batting for the Allstars, and initially cashed in on some loose stuff from Luke Horden and left-armer Chris Etheridge. But Etheridge struck back quickly, Hywel being the first to go – caught at point by substitute Sean Jun, who looked mortified to have played a part in a fellow Allstar’s dismissal. It really wasn’t to be Hywel’s day – having previously left his wallet on the train, his game was to be cruelly cut short, as he aggravated an old shoulder injury while himself substituting in the field for The Min’s late arrivals. Steyn Grobler started positively with a couple of boundaries – but yorked himself in Etheridge’s next over to leave us 39-2.

Even after these early setbacks, the runs continued to flow as Sam Macdonald also began brightly with some crisp straight drives and delicate sweeps. But it was the Min’s change bowlers that changed the course of this game. Off-spinner Jim Carroll first took a sharp, low caught and bowled to remove Sam, and then he and skipper Beswick turned the screw. Their accurate bowling proved impossible to get away as we just kept hitting the fielders, the next 6 overs going at just a run an over. Tony Grant pulled Carroll over midwicket to try and break the stranglehold, but then holed out to point, and just after the drinks break we were 83-4.

Sam Perera had had a nightmare, 3-hour journey from far away to reach the ground, but quickly got to work as we looked to lift the tempo. With Matt turning ones into twos, and twos into threes, the pair added 61 before Richard Earney (the fastest milkman in the West) had Sam caught at third man. Andrew Deller, making his Allstars debut after five years out of the game, looked he’d never been away as he kept the momentum going, only for the returning Beswick to have him snapped up at mid-wicket, and Earney then finished the innings by having Iain Wilson caught off the final ball. Matt Biss remained undefeated, carrying his bat for 72, a mighty effort against a challenging bowling attack, and his third fifty in succession (including one for NCI the previous day). Still, our final total of 178-7 looked 30 or 40 light on a pitch showing few demons and a monstrous outfield to defend.

To have any chance of defending it, we needed early wickets in reply – and we got them, as Sheahan Arnott charged in and struck twice in his first two overs. Having first bowled Earney, he then produced an absolute peach of a delivery to castle the dangerous Carroll. At the other end, skipper Beswick was living a charmed life as a couple of aerial shots just cleared the infield. Sean Jun and Sam Perera both ran in with whole-hearted spells, but both went wicketless, and it was TG who made the breakthrough as he trapped Stephenson LBW. The Min were 55-3 in the 13th over, and we were still in it.

But that was as good as it got for the Allstars, as the pugnacious Brock Boyd-Taylor joined Beswick to take The Min to the brink of victory with a stand of 119. Jimmy Scott, Iain and Dell all tried their best, but with little help from the surface, runs came more and more easily. Sheahan was recalled for one final go, but after Beswick retired hurt to give Usanga a go, a flurry of boundaries from Boyd-Taylor carried The Min over the line.

Nevertheless, it was a top day out for us all, and it’s been fantastic to find an opponent with whom we have so much in common. We decamped to the Leather Bottle pub for drinks and cricket chat with their players and enthusiastic supporters. We wish them all the best for their upcoming tour to Somerset, and look forward to playing them again next year – but next up for us, it’s one of the highlights of our season, as we head to Kent to play Matfield on their stunning village green ground.

Amit shines as Allstars retain James Abrahams Trophy

Hampstead Heath Extension, Sunday 19 June 2022.

St Anne’s Allstars 254-3 (35 overs: Amit Deverathippa 117* ret; Matt Biss 51* ret) beat Mighty Wanderers 216-9 (35 overs: Lars Smith 53, Amit Deverathippa 3-22; Amiya Ranjan 2-20) by 38 runs.

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Pete Cresswell, Garreth Duncan and Chris Deeley

The Allstars’ encounters with Mighty Wanderers go back almost to the beginning of our club in the early 2000s, and the James Abrahams Trophy, named after our club’s very own legal eagle, has been keenly contested over the years, with both sides celebrating victories in recent years. On Father’s Day, we retained the trophy with an ultimately comfortable win, thanks largely to a brilliant all-round performance from Amit Deverathippa.

It was touch and go whether the game would take place at all, North Middlesex CC having disgracefully cancelled our ground booking on the Wednesday and prompting a scramble to find an alternative venue. Fortunately, for us if not for them, our friends the Salmagundi Gardeners were unable to use their ground booking (their opponents having pulled out) and we were grateful to sub-let it from them for the game. The Hampstead Heath extension, near Golders Green, was a pleasant enough public park location, with some practice nets where the local kids were keen to test out their cricketing skills on us (and one family kindly providing some thirsty Allstars with water).

Mighty Wanderers won the toss and asked us to bat first, no doubt seeing a pitch which many feared might misbehave, and skipper Pete Cresswell marched out to open the innings with Paul Burgin. Brothers Nick and Jono Charlton started well for Wanderers, left-armer Jono striking the first blow with a ball that kept low to bowl Pete for a duck (a fate which he had predicted the day before, having had a more fruitful afternoon playing rounders that day). It was a blow for Wanderers when Nick Charlton pulled up with a groin injury and was unable to bowl more than his initial four overs – but this brought in their best bowler Taylor into the attack. Pablo had begun with attacking intent, hitting three boundaries in his 18 – but Taylor bowled him with another shooter to leave us 41-2 in the 13th over.

The fall of the second wicket brought in Amit to join Matt Biss at the wicket, and together they put together an epic stand of 189 that took the game completely away from Wanderers. Having carefully seen off the dangerous Taylor, they then accelerated as all of the change bowlers were put to the sword – Rigby the first to be blasted out of the attack with an over that went for 19. One felt for the Wanderers’ fielders as, like the Dutch players in the England ODI on Friday (and us on many occasions at Barnes) they frequently went searching for the ball in the undergrowth. They must have been wondering what their captain was doing too, strangely keeping the field in for far too long when common sense surely would have dictated that more men be placed out on the boundary.

Had they gone on, a whole stack of club records could have been under threat, but after Amit had brought up his hundred and Matt his fifty, they both gracefully retired to give others a go, much to the relief of the Wanderers bowlers. Amit’s hitting was the most powerful I’ve ever seen in an Allstars game – square leg and long-on being particularly targeted – mixed in with deft deflections through third man. His devastating 117 included 14 fours and 7 sixes. But Matt’s contribution to this monster stand shouldn’t be forgotten, defying his own frustrations to put the bad balls away for boundaries while running singles to get Amit back on strike. Sanjay Dindyal and Sam Perera finished with a flourish, adding a quick 23 before Sanj was caught off the final ball to leave us on an impressive 254-3.

Even with such a big total on the board, success is never guaranteed, and we still had to bowl well to defend it. Sheahan Arnott gave us the perfect start, pushing back Wanderers opener Softhus with two well-directed back of a length deliveries before blasting his middle stump out of the ground with a third. Shanmugam Sama was finding some lovely rhythm at the other end – his low, slingy action being perfect for what still remained a difficult surface, and quickly added a second by bowling Shubat. Amiya Ranjan is settling quickly into Allstars cricket and, just as he had done on his debut, struck with his first delivery with a steepling caught and bowled as Tjasink tried to launch his first ball out of the ground. Wanderers were 34-3 in the 11th over and already had a mountain to climb.

Thereafter we kept nipping in with wickets just as Wanderers thought they were getting some momentum going. On his first Allstars appearance of the season, the good doctor Sanj took the next wicket as Rigby feathered a catch to Sam Perera who had an excellent day behind the stumps. Chris Deeley stuck to his task as Wanderers desperately tried to keep up with the run rate, and he deservedly took his first Allstars wicket as Shashank dragged on. At the drinks break Wanderers were 96-5 and the game was surely out of their reach.

To their credit, Wanderers refused to give in, and Jono Charlton and Smith continued to go for their shots. But this was Amit’s day, and his off-spin ended any remaining hopes Wanderers had winning the game. Firstly, he broke a threatening sixth wicket stand by bowling Jono Charlton. Radomic ludicrously refused to walk when he nicked the following ball into Sam’s gloves – shades of Stuart Broad in the first Ashes Test of 2013 – but he didn’t last much longer as he strayed down the pitch in the same over for Sam to complete a superb stumping. Taylor soon followed, caught behind by Sam, and Wanderers were 140-8 and the game was up.

Smith and Nick Charlton continued to hit out – Smith carting me for a massive six over cow corner – but by now, the required rate was way beyond them. Fittingly, it was Amit who had the final say as he took a well judged catch at long-off off the returning Amiya to dismiss Smith after he had completed a brave fifty.

We finished an excellent day’s cricket just before the heavens opened and we quickly headed for the pub. Mighty Wanderers were gracious in defeat, and we look forward to playing them again next season. Next up, we cross London to face a new opponent, The Min CC, at Morden on Sunday.

Weasels walloped at Barnes

Barnes Common, Saturday 11 June 2022.

St Anne’s Allstars 290-6 (35 overs: Amit Deverathippa 72, Steyn Grobler 46) beat New Barbarian Weasels 182-7 (35 overs: Muhammed Askar 2-45) by 108 runs.

Allstars Debuts: Usman Khan, Shorif Uddin.

Report by Sam PereraPhotos by Jimmy Scott and Amit Deverathippa

The Weasels and our club go back a long way, and even though they play few games these days, Iain “Wibble” Wilson’s men always make a special effort to raise a team to play us. On a pleasant afternoon at Barnes Common, they played with spirit – but we were just too good as we went to a comfortable victory.

We went in with a well laid out game plan, a batting strategy, and a contingency plan, and our batting order was set to achieve this strategy. For the first 10 overs – building the foundation – our opening batsmen Amit Deverathippa and Harshad Keskar were given two targets: holding their wicket to see off the opening bowlers, and maintaining a run rate of 4 to 5 an over. This wasn’t easy with the Weasels’ two opening fast bowlers, Hamad and Hamza, who swung the ball to a level one would expect in a much higher level of cricket than ours. But the immense maturity and patience our two openers displayed saw them off, and after 10 overs we were on target at 44-0.

From overs from 11 to 20, the plan was one batsman accelerate and the other two anchor in. Harshad played a top innings, and the level of maturity he displayed, coupled with the wide range of stylish technical strokes, was a treat to watch. The opening stand had reached 61 in the 13th over before our old friend Wibble had him stumped.

Steyn Grobler joined Amit at the wicket, and played his natural attacking game from the start, with a boundary off his first ball – and then the boundaries started to rain. Amit, too, increased the run rate yet higher, and the pair put on a lightning stand of 98 in just 10 overs, a scoring rate rarely achieved in our history. When Cam dismissed Steyn caught and bowled four short of his fifty, we were very handily placed at 159-2 with plenty overs and batting still to come.

Our batting hero, and undoubted man of the match, Amit’s performance deserves great credit far beyond the impressive 72 runs he scored. Many who have seen Amit’s previous innings for the Allstars saw a very different batsman at Barnes. He held his nerve, played a defensive innings, with patience and maturity, and this season he has displayed his ability to play at any level of the order. Supported by debutant Usman Khan’s 41 and Amiya Ranjan’s quick double digits the score passed the 200 mark with 8 overs still to be bowled. Though Joshi was to dismiss both Amit and Usman, Sam Perera and Shanmugam Sama then shared a sixth wicket partnership of 59 in the last five overs before Sam was caught off the final delivery. Our eventual score of 290-6 was the third highest total in our history.

When the Allstars took the field, our efforts were no less impressive. Shanmu and Amiya both bowled at rocket speed and gained massive swing, stretching even Steyn’s athletic keeping skills. Shanmu struck in the first over to a stunning catch by Jimmy Scott at second slip, one of the best ever catches by an Allstar in the slip cordon, and neither of the second wicket pair were able to make any meaningful contribution as Amiya kept the scoring rate under tight control.

Usman continued a fine debut with the next blow, a smart stumping by Steyn who kept with the highest level of quality throughout the innings, and Muhammad Askar bowled superbly to take two wickets, having Sarmad caught by Steyn and bowling Cam. Our fielding performance was equally sharp, Sam Perera sending Chinton back as he ran him out with a direct hit from mid-off. Though the Weasels bravely saw the overs out, Hamza top scoring with 48, an 108-run victory was fully deserved. The Allstars’ motivation and commitment was exceptional, and team work and partnerships were the keys to victory.

We wish the Weasels all the best for the rest of their season – but next up, we face Mighty Wanderers at Crouch End this Sunday.

Special K wins it for the Gents

Wycombe House CC, Sunday 29 May 2022.

Gentlemen of West London 224-5 (35 overs: Pavan Kota 111*) beat St Anne’s Allstars 136-9 (35 overs: Sheahan Arnott 40*) by 88 runs.

Allstars Debuts: Adil Doshi, Pavan Kanwal, Hamza Manzoor.

Report by Pete Cresswell – Photos by Amit Deverathippa and Pete Cresswell

On a pleasant May afternoon the Allstars (gratefully reinforced by the host club Wycombe House CC) convened at their beautiful ground in Isleworth to contest the 42-11 Trophy with our longest-standing opponents, the Gentlemen of West London. Greeted by a flat looking pitch, the Gents had no hesitation in choosing to bat first on winning the toss.

Allstars opening bowlers Sam Waddicor and Amiya Ranjan began tidily under cloudy skies, with Sam removing both Gents’ openers to have them in a little trouble at 25/2 in the 8th over. Our old friend Pavan Kota then began a recovery with Aamir Ahmed, the pair adding 49 before Shanmugam Sama trapped Ahmed in front on the stroke of drinks. Just after the break, Shanmugam then pouched his second catch of the day, a smart caught and bowled to remove Krishna for 0.

At this stage the Gents were 76/4 and in a spot of bother – but then the sun emerged from the clouds, removing any swing, and Kota combined with Sudireddy and then Sanjay Patel to plunder 148 in the second half of the innings. We know Kota is a very special player- him having scored a hundred for us as a guest player against Crossbats in 2018 – and he brought up a fine ton in the last over with a six, just clearing Shanmugam on the square leg boundary.

225 seemed an imposing target, and the clouds returned after tea, meaning the Allstars’ top order had to deal with swing from the very handy Gents’ opening bowlers. Our first guest from Wycombe House, Adil Doshi, was bowled through the gate, and then Martin Ostrowski soon chipped one back to the bowler. Hamza Mansoor, our second guest, accelerated with a four and a six before being run out in a mix up with skipper Cresswell. Both Cresswell and Sam Perera quickly perished trying to up the run rate, reducing us to 33/5 and leaving the tail with a job to do to restore some respectability.

The third of our guests, Pavan Kanwal posted a handy 22, working well with Amit Deverathippa to stop the rot, before Sheahan Arnott played a superb hand for 40 not out, his highest Allstars score. He was ably assisted by Jimmy Scott and Sam Waddicor, the trio adding 60 to ensure we batted out the 35 overs, finishing on 136/9.

Overall the game was taken away from us by Pavan Kota’s superb knock, but there is never any disgrace in losing to such a fabulous innings. It was still a very pleasant day in beautiful surroundings against friendly opposition against whom we have had so many enjoyable games over the years. Big thanks too to Wycombe House CC for the use of their ground and the loan of players – apparently over 30 lads volunteered for the extra game time when our call went out on Saturday! Next up for us, we return to our spiritual home of Barnes Common as we face the Weasels on Saturday 11 June.

Plastics fantastic as Allstars’ goose is cooked

Barn Elms, Sunday 1 May 2022.

Plastics 183 all out (31.3 overs: Alex Webster 45, Pete Bishop 33*, Amit Deverathippa 3-14, Sheahan Arnott 3-33) beat St Anne’s Allstars 128 all out (25.2 overs: Jerry Jamieson 4-16) by 55 runs.

Allstars Debut: Amiya Ranjan.

Click below for scorecard:

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Shanmugam Sama and Pete Cresswell

Plastics are a team formed from a collection of players who met on the internet via social cricket at Archbishop’s Park in south London. Their name comes from that group playing with plastic balls – but they decided they wanted a bash at proper cricket. Now in their seventh season, their named and numbered shirts and their sharp wit very much evokes the early days of the Allstars, and their razor sharp social media our more recent years. Their website describes the team’s ability as “weak-weak” – but this belies their strength, as an absolute thrashing of the Gentlemen of West London last year reveals. In a 10-a-side affair, they were to prove too strong for us – but not without a valiant fight where everyone gave their all.

Barn Elms is a vast playing field area, split between two London boroughs (this game being played on the Wandsworth side), and backs onto London’s Wetland Centre. The local population of Canada and greylag geese strutted their stuff around the playing fields as though they owned them, and honking as they flew overhead. They made their presence felt in another way too, their droppings fertilising much of the outfield.

Plastics chose to bat first on winning the toss – but with the pitch damp after light rain in the morning, we weren’t complaining. Variable bounce was evident from the first over, as Sheahan Arnott, opening the bowling for us, struck two early blows. Having bowled a hungover-looking Matthew Webb in the first over, he then pinned Anthony Mortimer LBW having hit him the previous ball which reared up off a length. Plastics were 10-2 and we were delighted with our start.

Opener Alex Webster looked in good touch, gliding an unlucky Shanmugam Sama away for three boundaries though backward square leg. Sam Perera replaced him, cleverly taking pace off the ball and dismissing Liam Killen as he disturbed his stumps. With only 10 fielders to contend with, Webster continued to find the gaps – but Sheahan wasn’t done, and finished his spell with another wicket, as Sam MacDonald took a stunning catch behind the stumps to send Murtaza on his way and leave Plastics at 63-4.

After an excellent debut season last year, Amit Deverathippa has upped his game yet further, putting on a yard of pace over the winter. His pace unsettled all of the Plastics batsmen, and he struck the next blow, blasting Conrad’s off stump out of the ground. Debutant Amiya Ranjan had already shown a glimpse of what he could do, with some sharp ground fielding breaking a stump – but his day was to get better still as he had the dangerous Webster caught behind with his first ball in Allstars cricket, a feat (we believe) unprecedented in our 22 year history.

At this point Plastics were 83-6 and we looked in control- but they had some very handy hitters down the order and forced their way back into the game. Their captain Pete Bishop counter-attacked with some fierce cuts and cover drives, and Charlie Bradbury provided his skipper with good support before Amiya returned to strike again, knocking back his stumps.

Tom Morgan-Grenville (happily just “TMG” to his team mates) proved a yet bigger sting in the tail as he too went for his shots, having a particular liking for the reverse sweep as Tony Grant, in particular, got some harsh treatment. He and Bishop had put on 51 for the eighth wicket before the returning Amit knocked out his middle stump. Yet still the resistance continued as Plastics showed they were nothing like as pliable as their name suggests, last man Jerry Jamieson also hitting out before Amit bowled him too to finish the innings. Their final score of 183 seemed like 30 too many – but with the pitch beginning to settle down, a lightning fast outfield and an opposition also limited to 10 fielders, it still felt chaseable.

A good start always helps – but we couldn’t have got off to a worse one as Pete Cresswell uncharacteristically hit Jamieson to cover in the opening over. At the rarefied position of number three, I scrambled to get my pads on and reach the crease – only to edge my second ball behind as keeper Webb took a stunning catch.

We have won games in the past after having been 0-2, and Amit and Sam Perera went about repairing the damage. They had put on 52 and were both looking in good touch – but Jamieson wasn’t finished with us yet. In his final over, he produced an absolute beauty of an inswinger to bowl Amit, before removing Sam as he feathered a catch behind.

Skipper for the day Nic Knight continued the fight, making light of a high full toss from Bradbury which he pulled with real authority to the square leg boundary. Shanmugam provided doughty support – only for the third pair of wickets to go down together. Nic gloved one from his opposing skipper Bishop down the leg side to be caught behind – and next ball, Bradbury got one through Shanmu’s defences to bowl him. Bishop struck again as Amiya was trapped LBW, and we were 85-7.

But the Allstars never go down without a fight, and Sam MacDonald reminded us all of how classy a batsman he is with some exquisitely timed cover and straight drives. With the run rate climbing, he finally perished at mid-off – but still we weren’t done. Sheahan went for his best Mark Waugh impressions with four crunching boundaries in his 20 – but he was last out as he clubbed Mortimer to mid-wicket.

But it was still a great day out against some likeable opposition, and there was some great chat after the game in the Red Lion – a pub well known to us over the years, and where we’d celebrated our club’s first ever victory, against Rain Men back in 2001. We wish Plastics all the best for their season ahead – but next up for us, it’s our first trip outside the capital this year, as we journey to Surrey to face Valley End on 15 May.